Since its inception, the Mindy Solomon Gallery has presented the work of contemporary Korean artists working in a variety of media including photography, painting and ceramics. Long overshadowed by the arts of China and Japan, a growing interest has been building momentum for contemporary Korean art and craft, witnessed by recent gallery presentations, museum exhibitions and a presence in international art fairs. From ancient times to today, Korea is noted for its rich artistic traditions, often marked by the use of bold color, natural forms and surface decoration, informed by centuries-old art forms.
Historically, Korean art is characterized by transitions germinating from the main religions practiced at the time, shifts between Confucianism and Buddhism. Considered one of the oldest civilizations in the world, Korea still retains many of its long-held customs and traditions, developing its own cultural identity and making outstanding achievements. To better understand the Korean way of thinking and its contemporary culture, one needs to take into account the nuances of its history and the cross-generational exchange between tradition and contemporary thought. Mindy Solomon Gallery artists Lee Kang Hyo, Ree Soo Jung, Lee Inchin, and Lee Jung-Do work in clay to perpetuate traditional, academically defined Korean aesthetic, while creating pieces that are uniquely their own.
Korean ceramics have been admired since the 12th century for their superb craftsmanship and original forms, techniques and design, as well a unique aesthetic. The functional beauty of Korean ceramics as well as the naturalist approach is important characteristics unique to Korean culture; an accumulation of experience, wisdom and a way of thinking over the centuries is still respected in all forms of art. (Above, Lee Kang-Hyo).
The natural landscape and an aesthetic preference for simplicity are of particular importance among the many factors which have shaped Korean art. Untouched nature is still of paramount importance to practice the spirit of leaving it as while seeking to discover ourselves. There is a sense of ease and harmony in contemporary ceramics which is grounded in Korea’s ancient ceramic traditions such as Buncheong ware yet taking it in new directions. (Above, Ree Soo-Jung).
Evoking nature itself, the imperfections of form, texture and fire provide a fresh interpretation and originality to these artists’ work. Emerging artist Sungyee Kim, (above), is creating two dimensional surfaces that convey a sense of textural mystery with her highly accomplished use of Sumi Ink, and mixed media. Her evocative surfaces are only eclipsed by the visual/spiritual interpretation of her deeply held Buddhist convictions.
People enjoy and appreciate contemporary art because of their ability to combine the past and the present and because of their unique characteristics that result through its own evolution. Contemporary Korean art has garnered a place in the narrative of Western contemporary art and has become an active participant in the globalizing art world. Because of the internationalism of cities like Seoul, there isn’t an ethnic marker to the country’s contemporary art, and that is one of its strengths. Without a history of political isolation, like China’s, or an insular culture, like Japan’s, Korea is more globally integrated. Its culture is the most adaptive of all the Asian nations. (Above, Sunkoo Yuh).
Influenced by culturally-specific impulses as well as Korean artists living and studying abroad, a new wave of Korean artists are gaining notoriety, taking from their own culture a proficiency of execution, a dexterity with material, and a thoughtfulness about artistic concerns; individual perspectives on modern life range from chaotic frenzy to a meditative simplicity. (Above, Lee In-Chin).